Saturday, April 18, 2009

Alcohol Treatment Pioneer Father Martin passes away

Anyone who went to an inpatient treatment program after 1975 probably saw “Chalk Talk”. It was a grainy old black and white film shot of Father Martin teaching how alcohol worked in the brain. He was one of the first to take the mystery out of alcoholism and establish it as a disease rather than a moral weakness.

Father Martin was a bright student, and a great teacher. Soon after he became a priest he developed his own problem with alcohol and was sent to a treatment program in 1959. He began to attend AA and devoted himself to helping other alcoholics. He started teaching and lecturing and developed his blackboard talks. They were so popular that the Navy filmed them and very quickly they became staples at treatment centers all over the country. Thousands of alcoholics saw those “Chalk Talks” and thousands of recovering alcoholics credit Father Martin for being an important part of their recovery. In the late 1970s a number of people encouraged Father Martin to help open a treatment center. After a lot of generous donations and lot of help, Father Martins Ashley opened in 1983. To date they have treated over 40,000 people and it is one of the most respected programs in the country. Here at the Coleman Institute we often refer people to Father Martin’s Ashley.

I found this great tribute to Father Martin on the Ashley website.

“In the words of the late Mike Deaver, former White House Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan, “Father Martin changed my life and changed me. When I came to Ashley, I had been with presidents and kings and popes and Prime ministers, but Father was the most powerful person I had ever met, and he still is today. You see, Father has the power to change people, to make them
better, to make them whole again.”

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